It’s All About God!
Part 3: A God who is eternal
Eleven years ago, we moved into our current house. Eleven years, and it’s gone by in a flash. It seems like yesterday when we moved in.
I was talking with a friend a couple weeks ago, and told him, “Eleven years from now, I’ll be 70.” His eyes went wide! “That’s just wrong!” he said. And I thought, “It will go by in a flash; it will be here before I know it!”
Life is short. When you are a teenager, it seems like forever until you get your drivers license, or graduate from high school. But when you are older, it seems like time flies by. Time seems to speed up the older you get.
Life is short, and God is forever. So you want to live your one and only life so that it counts for eternity. Make it count! That’s what we’re talking about today.
Christmas at Life Center: Carol Sing at 7 PM on Wednesday night. Six identical Christmas services—there are still a few volunteer spots to fill. Please sign up on the back of the tear-off tab. Use the handout to Find, tell, bring! Also, one service on December 26 at 11:15.
Family day next Sunday afternoon—Whitworth Men’s Basketball and ice cream! Free tickets available today at the Info Center; donations cheerfully accepted!
“This is Love”—the acoustic worship night scheduled for tonight has been postponed. CD: 850 left; great Christmas gift!
Introduction: Life is short; God is forever.
It’s all about God. Most of the time, I live my life as though it’s all about me. But the Bible is clear that it’s all about God. Creation is God’s world; history is God’s story; and you are God’s person. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. You belong to God, and you are to live for Him. It’s all about God.
So we’re thinking about God—that is theology—and it’s very practical. If life is all about God, then if you think correctly about God, life goes well; if you think incorrectly about God, life gets messed up in a hurry.
Last week, we talked about a God who is holy—there is no one like Him. And this holy God calls us to be holy, to be different: let who God is shape who you are.
This week, we are talking about a God who is eternal. I’ve written a sentence at the introduction: “Life is short; God is forever.” Would you say that with me? Life is short; God is forever. There’s the big idea. God always has been and always will be; He lives beyond time. We are finite; we have a beginning and an end; God has no beginning and no end. It is very difficult to imagine God’s eternalness; our minds are finite and we keep bumping up against finite limits. For a finite person, trying to understand eternity is like trying to cram the ocean into a bucket. But we have to try.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
God has set eternity in our hearts, yet we cannot fathom it. We have a taste of it—like a bucket of ocean water—and we yearn for it, but it is beyond us to fully grasp it. But it is important that we try, so here goes.
1. God is eternal.
All through the Bible, God has revealed Himself to us as the eternal God. He is the everlasting One, who was before the beginning of time and will be after the end of time. He lives forever; He was and is and is to come. I’ve listed a sampling of verses about God’s eternal nature; let’s look at a few.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
This is part of the blessing that Moses pronounced on Israel before he died. He reminded them that the eternal God is their refuge, their place of safety, and that God is carrying them in everlasting arms.
ILL: When I was young Christian, we used to sing the hymn, “Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms,
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
That song comes from this verse: “underneath are the everlasting arms.”
If God were temporary, here today and gone tomorrow, you’d never know if He was going to be there for you. Others come and go, but you can count on Him because He is the eternal God, and underneath you are the everlasting arms. (We’re going to talk more about this on Christmas Eve, when my talk is “A God with arms”. )
Psalm 9:7 The Lord reigns forever.
Psalm 102:12 But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
You, O Lord sit enthroned forever. God’s reign, God’s kingdom, is forever.
Daniel 4:3 His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.
God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. All other kingdoms are temporary, including us. I love the USA and am proud to be a citizen; and our nation is temporary—all nations are temporary. Only God’s kingdom is eternal. Think of all the Christians who have lived through regime changes, through the rise and fall of nations. This should keep us from politicizing the gospel, or staking our faith on the survival of our nation, or any political system. Only God’s kingdom is eternal. Not only is God’s kingdom eternal, so is His love!
Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
This refrain was the most popular chorus in Israel for centuries. You’ll find it in many psalms and scattered through Israel’s history. For example, in 2 Chronicles 20, when a huge enemy army invaded Israel, King Jehoshaphat and all the people cried out to God. God spoke to them and told them not to be afraid, that they wouldn’t have to fight; God would fight for them. So the next day, Jehoshaphat sent the choir out in front of the army—this is not a recommended battle strategy…unless you really want to get rid of your choir! Guess what they sang? “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Top song in Israel. #1 hit. Bigger than the Beatles! Lasted for centuries!
Psalm 136 is another version of this hit song and it is an antiphonal song, meaning it was sung back and forth in alternating parts. We’re going do it together. I’ll sing or say the first part; you will all sing the response, “His love endures forever.”
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights— His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them, His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder, His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
16 to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever.
17 who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings— His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites, His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan— His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever.
23 to the One who remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.
25 and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
What shall we title that song? His love endures forever. Let that settle in your heart: His love endures forever. He is the eternal God. And because He is the eternal and unchanging one, we can trust Him.
Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.
I like that: the Rock eternal. Dwayne Johnson might be The Rock, but He isn’t the Rock eternal: that’s our God! He is the eternal and unchanging one.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
This is part of God’s eternal nature: He is the Rock eternal, the unchanging one, the same forever. You can count on Him.
God is eternal. This means that He is above and beyond time, but it means more than that. God is eternal in terms of time, but also in terms of His being. Everything about Him is eternal. We’ve already seen that His kingdom is eternal and His love is eternal. His knowledge is eternal—He is all knowing or omniscient. His power is eternal—He is all-powerful or omnipotent. His presence is eternal—He is omnipresent. Here is how Paul describes Him.
Ephesians 1:22–23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Paul says here that God has placed everything under the feet of Jesus, and made Jesus the head of the church, which is His body. Then he describes the church with this remarkable phrase: it is “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” That is a very high view of the church—which is us. But what I want you to notice is the last seven words: “Him who fills everything in every way.” Jesus fills everything in every way. He fills time, He fills space, and He fills every other dimension we cannot imagine. He fills everything in every way. He is all in all, eternal in every way.
Let me say it another way. You can never exaggerate God. He will always be bigger than anything you can imagine or say about Him. You can never exaggerate God. He is “immeasurably more than all you can imagine.” You can never exaggerate God. He is eternal in every way.
1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
God is eternal.
2. I am not.
God is eternal. I am not.
I know that some of you are objecting in your heads. “Wait a minute. Isn’t there life after death? Don’t we have eternal life in Christ? Don’t we live forever with God?” Yes. And I’ve included some verses that indicate this. All of the verses listed in John promise eternal life to anyone who believes in Jesus. One very familiar example:
John 3:15–16 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Believe in Jesus and you’ll live forever with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
This is what awaits us after we die: an eternal house in heaven. We will be with the Lord forever. And some of us won’t die, but will be alive when Christ returns.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Would you say that last sentence with me: And so we will be with the Lord forever.
So will we live forever? Yes…in Christ. And only in Christ. I am not an eternal being in myself. I am a created being, a temporal being who lives forever because of Jesus. Only God has no beginning and no end; I have a beginning and an end. Only God is eternal; I live forever only because of my relationship with an eternal God. Without Him, I am a dead man. I am done. My “forever-ness” is completely dependent upon Him. So God is eternal; I am not.
The Bible repeatedly reminds us that our lives here on earth are very short, and that we should remember that and live wisely. The Bible compares our lives to a breath, a mist, a cloud that vanishes and is gone, a shadow, or a wisp of smoke—all very fragile and temporary.
Psalm 39:4–5 Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.
Everyone take a deep breath—let it out. That’s your life. In the big scheme of things, your whole life is like one breath. Life is fleeting; life is short.
Psalm 90:5–6 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— 6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.
In hot and arid Israel, it was common for grass to spring up in the morning dew, be scorched by the afternoon heat, and be withered by evening. The psalmist uses this common picture to remind us that life is short, then says:
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
It is wise to realize that life is short; it is foolish to think you have forever. Some people put God off for later. “When I’m older; when I’m done having fun; when I’ve got more time; after I’ve made my mark.” You don’t know how many days you’ll have.
James 4:13–14 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
You don’t know what will happen. This is why the Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation.” Don’t put God off for tomorrow; “you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is a mist.”
ILL: You’ve all boiled water; you’ve seen steam escaping a teakettle. That’s the picture here. Your life is a mist, a vapor—here one minute, gone the next.
You don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
ILL: Francis Chan tells this story in his book, Crazy Love.
“As a pastor, I’m often called upon when life ‘vanishes like a mist.’ Stan Gerlach, a successful businessman who was well known in the community, was giving a eulogy at a memorial service when he decided to share the gospel. At the end of his message, Stan told the mourners, “You never know when God is going to take your life. At that moment, there is nothing you can do about it. Are you ready?” Then Stan sat down, fell over and died. His wife and sons tried to resuscitate him but there was nothing they could do—just as Stan had said a few minutes earlier.”
When Francis got to the house, the extended family had gathered, and he was asked to say a word to them. He read Matthew 10:32–33 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”
“I asked everyone to imagine what it must have felt like for Stan. One moment, he was at a memorial service saying to a crowd, ‘This is who Jesus is.’ The next, he was before God hearing Jesus say, ‘This is who Stan Gerlach is!’ One second he was confessing Jesus; a second later, Jesus was confessing him!
It happens that quickly. And it could happen to any of us. In the words of Stan Gerlach, ‘Are you ready?’”
Your life is a mist. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
I’m not trying to scare you into heaven—or scare the hell out of you. I’m trying to talk sense into you. I’m trying to help you see your life as it really is. Most days, you drive down a road at 60 miles an hour only a few feet away from cars traveling the other direction at the same speed—your life could end in the blink of an eye. We live on the edge of eternity every day. Please understand how fragile life is, and don’t put God off. Today is the day of salvation, and in a few moments, I’ll give you the chance to say yes to God.
God is eternal. I am not.
3. It’s all about God: live for God! Make it count!
If God is eternal and I am not, then it’s all about God, not me. That’s obvious! And I should live for God, not myself. This is what happens when we gain an eternal perspective; we see what really matters, that life is short and God is eternal, so I need to live for Him. There’s a great passage on eternal perspective in:
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
What a great perspective! We fix our eyes on the eternal, the unseen. If all we see is what’s right in front of us, what’s right now, it’s easy to lose heart and give up. But if we can see the unseen, if we can gain an eternal perspective, then we stay encouraged. We don’t lose heart; we don’t get discouraged and give up. Even though we’re wasting away outwardly, even though things are going badly outwardly, inwardly God is making us new. And our troubles—light and momentary—is that how you see your troubles? Or are they heavy and permanent? If you could see from God’s eternal perspective, you would see that your troubles are light and momentary, but they are producing in you a glory, a beauty that is heavy and permanent. God is at work even in your troubles doing something beautiful in you, something beautiful that will last forever! So don’t give up!
ILL: A man stopped to watch a Little League baseball game. He asked one of the youngsters what the score was. “We’re losing 18-0,” was the answer.
“Well,” said the man. “I must say you don’t look discouraged.”
“Discouraged?” the boy said, puzzled. “Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t come to bat yet.”
Perspective: You’ve got to be able to see beyond the inning you are in. Lift your eyes and start seeing the eternal; start seeing God at work.
To live with an eternal perspective—seeing the unseen—is to live for God.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Don’t live for yourself. Live for Him who died and was raised for you.
Galatians 2:19–20 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Live for God. Let Christ live in you.
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
To live is Christ!
Those who live for God live abundantly and die with no regrets. Those who live for themselves never really live.
I want to finish with a true story; watch this.
Drama: Brooke’s story.
Life is short; God is eternal; so live every day for God. Live in such a way that your life counts for eternity. Make it count!